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Newcomer joins Old Adobe school board

Newcomer Jen Cusimano will help a veteran Old Adobe Union School Board determine how to prioritize spending funds from a bond measure initiative approved by voters last June.

Cusimano was the leading vote-getter Tuesday in a five-person race for two seats on the district board. She received 3,939 votes for 31.4 percent. Incumbent Marlene Abel retained her seat with 3,629 votes (28.9 percent)

Jennifer Gold Ruckrigl, who favored reopening Bernard Eldredge as a seventh-eighth grade charter school, was third with 2,454 (19.5 percent) votes.

Attorney David Watts received 1,927 (15.3 percent) votes, while sales representative Jonathan Nathe received 610 (4.9 percent) of the votes.

Cusimano joins Abel, a 20-year board veteran, Cecilie Stuelpe, Anthony Bendik and Russ Wigglesworth on a board that will be charged with implementing projects financed through the $26 million Measure G bond measure.

The opportunity to implement those structural and other improvements was the main issue in a low-key and cordial campaign in the first contested election in the Old Adobe District in more than a decade. Cusimano is a product of the Old Adobe District, having attended elementary school at Old Adobe Elementary School. She now has two daughters at the school.

In addition to looking forward to making upgrades at the schools in the district, (Old Adobe hasn't changed since I went to school there," she said during the campaign), she is advocate for teacher support and raising the district's test scores.

Although she has never held an elected position before, Cusimano has been very active in the Old Adobe District, serving in the Old Adobe Parent Teacher Organization, as a volunteer in the campaign for Measure G and as a leader of two Girl Scout troops.

Abel, who has seen the district through some lean times, including the closure of Bernard Eldredge School and the laying off of teachers, said during the campaign that she is excited about the opportunity to have resources to make changes in the district.

"It is very exciting to be able to add programs and fix our buildings after so many difficult years," she said during the campaign. "It is exciting to be able to make positive changes for our kids."

The Old Adobe Union School District includes four elementary schools, three of which are now charter schools. In addition, the Bernard Eldredge School site hosts several district programs including Kids Care, GATE and SCOE programs.


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